The quickest lap ever seen at the Sakhir International Circuit saw Lewis Hamilton storm to pole position for this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix, as the much-maligned elimination qualifying session once again fell flat in the desert.
For the second race in a row, each of the respective phases of qualifying were anticlimactic, with Hamilton’s fastest lap ensuring Q3 ended with more than two minutes still on the clock, while both Q2 and Q1 ended similarly disappointingly.
But nothing was going to deny Hamilton, after the Mercedes AMG PETRONAS driver stormed to a time of 1m29.493s to deny team-mate Nico Rosberg by 0.077s to take his fifty-first career Formula 1 pole position.
After threatening to challenge Mercedes early in the session, Scuderia Ferrari’s challenge ended more than half a second shy of Hamilton’s pace, with Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen securing the third and fourth slots on the grid.
Daniel Ricciardo secured fifth place for Red Bull Racing after a strong lap in Q3 saw him get ahead of Williams Martini Racing duo Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa, while Nico Hulkenberg was the final driver to make it through to Q3 for the Sahara Force India team but was unable to do any better than eighth.
Just missing out on Q3 was the impressive Romain Grosjean, who gave the Haas F1 Team their first top ten grid slot in ninth, just ahead of both Scuderia Toro Rosso drivers, Max Verstappen ahead of Carlos Sainz Jr.
Stoffel Vandoorne did a good job on début to finish twelfth for McLaren-Honda as he deputises this weekend for the injured Fernando Alonso, two places ahead of veteran team-mate Jenson Button, with the second Haas of Esteban Gutierrez splitting the two team-mates.
Daniil Kvyat was the first casualty of Q2, and will start from fifteenth in the second Red Bull Racing entry.
An impressive sixteenth was Manor Racing’s Pascal Wehrlein, who managed to out-qualify six other drivers with two superb laps, with Marcus Ericsson the leading Sauber F1 Team driver in seventeenth ahead of the second Force India of Sergio Perez, who continues to disappoint this weekend, especially compared to his team-mate.
The Renault team will be extremely disappointed with their session, with Kevin Magnussen nineteenth and Jolyon Palmer twentieth, although the former will start from the pit lane following his failure to stop at the weighbridge during FP2 on Friday. Neither driver appeared to show any sign of pace, with the Dane three-tenths of a second faster than the Briton at the end of the day.
The back row of the grid will be formed by the Manor Racing entry of Rio Haryanto and by Sauber’s Felipe Nasr, who ended up twenty-second and last and the first driver eliminated in Q1.
Bahrain Grand Prix Qualifying Result
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